Botany and Ecology
Botany and Ecology

Botany and Ecology

Our current selection of Botany and Ecology classes and workshops for adults for this season at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.


Floral Mimicry and Deceptive Pollination

with Kyle Martin
Friday, June 15
9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Flowers have evolved the ability to communicate with their animal pollinators using the ancient language of chemistry, but that doesn’t mean they always speak the truth! In this course, explore how and why flowers signal to their pollinators. Special emphasis will be placed on the cheaters - the flowers that use mimicry, false advertising, and dishonest signaling to trick unwitting animals into performing pollination.

Instructor Kyle Martin will introduce you to the visible and invisible world of plant-animal communication and deceit. Class will conclude with a walk through the Gardens to see (and smell) examples of floral mimicry and deceptive pollination for ourselves.

This class is an elective for the Certificate in Native Plants and Ecological Horticulture.


Mapping Maine’s Jewels: Results of the Maine Butterfly Survey

with Herb Wilson
Friday, July 20
5 – 6 p.m.
Education Center

Between 2003 and 2017, over 400 citizen-scientists submitted over 30,000 records of butterfly sightings at the township level to produce the first atlas of Maine butterflies. Herb will discuss general patterns and some surprising discoveries of this volunteer-based effort as well as the basic biology of butterflies, their importance in Maine communities and changes seen in relation to climate change.


The Caterpillar Lab Residency

with Sam Jaffe
Friday, August 3 – Tuesday, August 7
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

The Caterpillar Lab is moving in! Join us August 3-7 as The Caterpillar Lab sets up not just an exhibit, but a functioning caterpillar rearing, researching, photographing, filming and educating facility in our hallways. Each day during the week, you will be able to visit the lab-in-residence here, see live caterpillar displays, take part in innovative programing and witness how The Caterpillar Lab cares for and works with these amazing and surprising creatures.

During installation, The Caterpillar Lab will set up over-the-top, up-close and hands-on native caterpillar exploration experiences. Think you know what’s lurking in your own backyard? Think again! See many dozens of species showcased in open-air displays, including enormous giant silk moth caterpillars, fierce-looking snake-mimicking caterpillars, convincing twig-mimicking caterpillars and bizarre legless slug caterpillars. Witness rare moments of metamorphosis, ecological relationships and parasitism play out first-hand both at the display tables and under The Caterpillar Lab’s digital microscopes, or chat with one of their experts who are always on hand to enrich your experience.

The Caterpillar Lab’s in-residence exhibit is a casual drop-in experience. Stay for ten minutes or five hours. Photograph the caterpillars, discuss gardening for insects, observe countless species, open up cocoons with The Caterpillar Lab staff or just hold a really HUGE caterpillar—choose your own caterpillar adventure. There is something for everyone from young children to seasoned naturalists and professional biologists – if you are wondering if this exhibit is appropriate for you, the answer is YES!


Moth Lighting

with Sam Jaffe and The Caterpillar Lab
Friday, August 3
7:30 – 10:30 p.m.

Moth lighting—the practice of placing a bright light next to a white sheet, then observing what insects fly in—is sweeping the nation! This favorite pastime of biologists, once limited to entomology courses and research field trips, is becoming a favorite hobby worldwide for nature lovers, gardeners and the naturally curious. Events like National Moth Week and Mothapalooza are attracting more and more attention—and now CMBG is bringing a mothing event to you!

The Caterpillar Lab will be here to set up sheets with special ultra-moth-attracting lights and help identify the hundreds of species we expect to attract. Come be surprised by the diversity, size and beauty of Maine’s nocturnal insects. Bring your curiosity and be ready to become hooked on this popular pastime.

Be prepared—avoid bright clothing, wear long sleeves and pants, and bring a flashlight and insect repellant. This program is designed for both adults and their families and is appropriate for ages 10 and up.


Caterpillars: The Whole Story

with Sam Jaffe and The Caterpillar Lab
Saturday, August 4
1 – 2:30 p.m.

Sam Jaffe, Director of The Caterpillar Lab, will present a photograph- and video-packed talk exploring backyard pollinators, plants and the many caterpillars positioned at the center of it all. His “whole story” perspective of natural history study and appreciation might just make you reconsider an herbivore's place in the garden. The "whole story" is a celebration of caterpillars in all their incarnations—you may never look at an insect the same way again! Afterwards, stay to explore the rest of the Caterpillar Lab exhibit as well as our many gardens, all included in the price of your admission.
This program is designed for both and adults and families and is appropriate for ages 10 and up.


The Caterpillar Walk

with Sam Jaffe and The Caterpillar Lab
Sunday, August 5
1 – 2:30 p.m.

The Caterpillar Lab is moving in, and while the exhibit will be filled with munching critters offering lots to explore, the real story is the one happening in our many gardens where these creatures are living out their strange lives in the wild. Join Director of The Caterpillar Lab Sam Jaffe on an exploration of the Gardens, searching for native caterpillars and other insects. Learn how The Caterpillar Lab finds their caterpillars, all about host plants and parasitoids and get caterpillar-finding secrets from one of the foremost caterpillar hunters in the world! This walk is appropriate for naturalists, gardeners and explorers of all ages. However, it may not be appropriate for more casually interested younger children.


The Lives of Maine Butterflies

with Andy Brand
Thursday, August 9
9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Everyone is familiar with butterflies and enjoys seeing them visit our flower gardens. But did you know that there are over 115 species of butterflies in Maine? Join Andy Brand as he looks deeper into this diverse world, taking participants on a tour of butterfly families and pointing out how to tell them apart. Butterfly metamorphosis will also be discussed in depth, revealing that butterfly life isn’t easy at any stage. How do these delicate creatures survive the winter? How do they protect themselves from predators? While answering these questions, Andy will also share his experiences rearing butterflies and moths as well as recommend some of his favorite field guides. After the indoor lecture, participants will head into the Gardens in search of butterflies and their favorite plants, then head home better prepared to identify backyard butterflies and, perhaps, even rear them at home.


Field Trip to Damariscove Island

with Boothbay Region Land Trust and Melissa Cullina
Saturday, September 8
9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Hop on board a boat to Damariscove Island for a day of exploration. Currently a Boothbay Region Land Trust Preserve, Damariscove Island is one of Maine’s earliest settlement sites, dating back four centuries to the arrival of the first European fishermen. On the boat ride out to the island, a BRLT representative will share information about the island's history and natural features. Once ashore, five miles of hiking trails, great tide-pooling, picnicking and a small rustic museum make for a fun day trip. While on the island, participants can join the Gardens’ Research Botanist Melissa Cullina for a closer look at the plants that call the island home. Melissa specializes in aquatic and coastal botany, field identification and rare species conservation.
Offered in partnership with Boothbay Region Land Trust. Please contact Boothbay Region Land Trust at 207-633-4818 or brlt@bbrlt.org for more information or to purchase tickets.
$40 member, $40 nonmember


Asters of Coastal Maine

with Melissa Cullina
Tuesday, September 11th
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Education Center

Coastal Maine’s diverse array of asters is in its full glory during the beautiful late summer days of September. Join Research Botanist Melissa Cullina to learn all about Maine’s different kinds of asters, including how to distinguish them and where they grow. Students will observe plants in CMBG’s wild habitats, as well as in the classroom, using dissecting microscopes and herbarium specimens. Please bring trail-walking shoes, lunch and a hand lens if you have one (extras will be provided).